The billionaire Sumner Redstone, chairman and chief government officer of Nationwide Amusements, has died on the age of 97, ViacomCBS mentioned on Wednesday.
For practically 30 years, the hard-charging media mogul led Viacom as government chairman of the board following Nationwide Amusements’s acquisition of a controlling stake within the firm in 1987.
Redstone took his father’s movie show chain and constructed it into an empire that included Paramount Photos, CBS and MTV. He was one of many final old-school media moguls together with Rupert Murdoch and cable king John Malone.
Together with his aggressive model and boundless vitality, he constructed an organization that produced a number of the best-rated TV and high films of the period, together with The Large Bang Idea, Prime Gun and Titanic. Redstone coined the phrase: “Content material is king.”
Redstone was unafraid of firing expertise, whether or not executives or film stars. In 2006 he severed ties with Tom Cruise, arguing that his personal life and conduct had been costing cash on the field workplace.
Redstone displayed a specific penchant for forcing out high executives, together with Viacom president Frank Biondi; Mel Karmazin, the chief of CBS; and Tom Freston, who was famously canned as chief government of Viacom after dropping a deal to amass MySpace to Murdoch.
“I’ve no intention of ever retiring, or of dying,” he advised an interviewer in 2011. “I’m The Curious Case of Mr Redstone.”
However as he entered his 90s, the state of Redstone’s bodily and psychological well being set off an avalanche of company maneuvering that resulted in him stepping down in 2016 as government chairman of each corporations.
CBS and Viacom had been mixed from 2000 to 2006, when Redstone separated them in an try and unleash the worth of Viacom’s cable channels.
His place as one of many world’s main moguls had begun fading in 2015, as these near him started questioning his psychological capability. The long-running authorized battle that ensued put him at odds with a former girlfriend and long-time confidante Philippe Dauman, however reunited him together with his daughter Shari, from whom he had been estranged.
The challenges to Redstone’s psychological well being resulted in him being changed as government chairman at CBS by Les Moonves and at Viacom by Dauman, whom Redstone would later drop from the belief that was to find out the path of CBS and Viacom after his demise.
After a lot authorized and backroom wrangling that one observer likened to Sport of Thrones, the Redstone household ousted Dauman from Viacom in August 2016, finally changing him with Robert Bakish. Dauman had been amongst these questioning Redstone’s well being.
Since 2016 Shari has pushed twice to merge CBS and Viacom. She has additionally weathered a lawsuit aimed toward diluting her household’s management of CBS, and a sexual misconduct scandal at CBS, which resulted within the September 2018 resignation of CEO Moonves. Viacom and CBS re-merged in 2019.
After a long time spent constructing his empire, Redstone’s participation at company occasions turned minimal in 2014 and he spoke only some phrases on earnings calls. Fortune journal reported that he attended his final board conferences that yr and cited a witness who mentioned he dozed and drooled throughout it, which raised the query about whether or not he was match to run the corporate.
Regardless of the issues about his well being, Redstone held on to his chairmanship for so long as potential. In June 2015, he advised Vainness Honest in an e mail correspondence: “It’s best to know that I’m by no means retiring!!!”
Later that yr, the Wall Road Journal reported Redstone had suffered mini-strokes that made talking troublesome, though he remained mentally sharp.
Former girlfriend Manuela Herzer challenged Redstone’s psychological competence in a lawsuit filed in November 2015, referring to him as a “residing ghost”. Herzer, who had acted because the billionaire’s designated healthcare agent, introduced the go well with in opposition to Redstone after he eliminated her from the function in addition to from his Los Angeles mansion in October 2015.
The go well with was thrown out in Could 2016 by a California decide who dominated that Redstone’s testimony had disproved Herzer’s claims. Herzer appealed the decide’s ruling, and the events settled in 2019.
Redstone’s demise, which comes at a time the media panorama is enduring wrenching adjustments, thins the ranks of a gaggle of media executives who modified the world of reports and leisure with the businesses they constructed.
Reuters contributed to this report